The Phoenix Lights, sometimes referred to as "The Lights Over Phoenix", were seen in the sky over Arizona and Nevada on March 13, 1997. Lights of varying descriptions were seen by thousands of people between 19:30 and 22:30 MST, in a space of about 300 miles, from the Nevada line, through Phoenix, to the edge of Tucson. UFO proponents claimed they were part of aircraft unknown to man, but the USAF identified them as flares dropped by A-10 Warthog aircraft which were on training exercises.

Initial reportsEdit

At about 18:55 PST, (19:55 MST), a man reported seeing a V-shaped object above Henderson, Nevada. He said it was about the "size of a (Boeing) 747" , sounded like "rushing wind" [1], and had six lights on its leading edge. The lights reportedly traversed northwest to the southeast.

An unidentified former police officer from Paulden, Arizona is also claimed to have been the next person to report a sighting after leaving his house at about 20:15 MST. He reputedly saw a cluster of reddish or orange lights in the sky, comprising four lights together and a fifth light trailing them, and through binoculars watched the lights until they disappeared south over the horizon.

Prescott and Prescott ValleyEdit

The objects were next seen in the areas of Prescott and Prescott Valley. They had traveled 30 miles to the south in a little over a minute. Although that was more almost three times the speed of sound, no sonic booms were reported. At approximately 20:17 pm MST, callers began reporting seeing four or five bright white lights passing overhead, a triangular-shaped object with a grouping of lights along the sides. It was reported to be a single craft made up five objects, each equal in size to a 747, flying in a perfectly locked formation and moving silently through the sky. The reports from Prescott Valley cast doubt on speculations that the lights were several planes flying in formation or flares fired by the Air Force. Prescott Valley witnesses noted that the object passed directly overhead and that the object was definitely solid because it blocked out much of the starry sky as it passed over.

The National UFO Reporting Center received the following report:

[He was] standing outside with his wife and sons in Prescott Valley, when they noticed a cluster of lights to in the west-northwest of their position. The lights formed a triangular pattern, but all of them appeared to be red, with the exception of the light at the nose of the object, which was distinctly white. The object, or objects, which had been observed for approximately 2-3 minutes with binoculars, then passed directly overhead the observers, they were seen to "bank to the right," and they then disappeared in the night sky to the southeast of Prescott Valley.


At the town of Dewey, 10 miles south of Prescott, Arizona, six people saw a large cluster of lights while driving northbound on Highway 69. The five adults and a youth stopped their car to observe the lights which were directly overhead when they exited the car. The lights appeared to hover for several minutes. The caller, who was an experienced flyer, said that the object was so large that he could clench his fist and hold it at arm's length and still not completely cover the light. He estimated the object to be not over 1,000 feet above the ground and that it was moving at a considerably slower pace than an aircraft would fly. Calls to the UFO centre were also received from Chino Valley, Tempe, and Glendale.

Arriving in PhoenixEdit

The lights hovered for about 4-5 minutes over the intersection of Indian School Road and 7th Avenue. At this point many widely publicized videos and photographs were taken. One amateur astronomer stated that he believed the objects were "a formation of planes and nothing at all out of the ordinary". [2] Bill Greiner, a cement driver hauling a load down a mountain North of Phoenix, had a different opinion of the event. He stated:

I'll never be the same. Before this, if anybody had told me they saw a UFO, I would've said, 'Yeah, and I believe in the tooth fairy'. Now I've got a whole new view. I may be just a dumb truck driver, but I've seen something that don't belong here."

After PhoenixEdit

The lights moved southeast towards Tucson, following Interstate 10 at slow speed. Reports during this period had the lights as being amber in color. A driver on the Interstate noted that a large object hovered over the car, which was moving at about 65 mph.

The object was next reported over Oracle. Here, it was described as having a reddish-orange color. Witnesses claimed that the object split up and each of the bright lights started moving in a separate direction along the edges of Tucson.

The final report came from a young man in the Kingston area who stopped his car at a payphone to report the incident. "[The] young man, en route to Los Angeles, called from a phone booth to report having seen a large and bizarre cluster of lights moving slowly in the northern sky".[3]

Radio reports Edit

On the Coast to Coast show known as The Art Bell Show, broadcast some time after the lights were reported, people claimed to have seen the lights. One caller reportedly said that Luke AFB sent up armed jets at the lights but there is no evidence to support this.


Sceptics agree with the USAF explanation that the lights were simply slow falling, long burning flares dropped by an A-10 Warthog aircraft on a training exercise over Luke AFB. Proponents of the spacecraft theory stated that the lights were over the city and not beyond the mountain where the Luke AFB was located. However, detailed analysis of the falling flares shows that they were actually beyond the mountain, as investigators discovered the lights vanished in line with the outline of the mountain. An investigation by Luke AFB itself also came to this conclusion and declared the case solved.

A video illustrating this was broadcast on a special on Fox Television stations about a year after the event. A copy of the original video was use in coordination with a video shot in the daytime from the exact same location. The two videos were merged into one on a frame by frame basis, so that the landmarks were always perfectly aligned. This allowed analysis of the lights regarding their apparent height above the mountain, and it was easily seen that the lights vanished in line with the outline of the mountain.



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